Shaka Zulu (1986)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Action, Biography, Drama
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,870 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 7 critic

A historical account on the life of the Zulu king Shaka.

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Series cast summary:
 Lt. Francis Farewell (10 episodes, 1986-1989)
 Dr. Henry Fynn (10 episodes, 1986-1989)
 Lord Charles Somerset (10 episodes, 1986-1989)
Fiona Fullerton ...
 Elizabeth Farewell (10 episodes, 1986-1989)
 Lord Bathurst (10 episodes, 1986-1989)
Henry Cele ...
 Shaka (10 episodes, 1986-1989)
Dudu Mkhize ...
 Nandi (10 episodes, 1986-1989)
 George IV (10 episodes, 1986-1989)
 Prof. Bramston (10 episodes, 1986-1989)
Kenneth Griffith ...
 Zacharias Abrahams (10 episodes, 1986-1989)


Framed around Queen Victoria's decision on England's political stance towards the Zulu Nation, this mini-series details King Shaka's rise and fall with mythic detail. Prophecy is mixed with recorded fact regarding Shaka's birth, exile, innovations in warfare, assumption of the throne, building of the Zulu Empire, first contact with Europe and the events that lead to his downfall. Written by Renee Ann Byrd <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Most Savage Warrior of All Time!


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 November 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Шака Зулу  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$24,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (original)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Based on 'Joshua Sinclair (I)''s own novel "Shaka Zulu", itself based on the oral tradition of the Zulu people. See more »


Shaka: A man chosen to wield life and death on the battlefield must be an artist, if he isn't, he is simply a murderer.
See more »


Referenced in Tosh.0: We Buy Golf (2014) See more »


We Are Growing
By Patric van Blerk, Julian Laxton, Margaret Singana and David Pollecutt (as Dave Pollecutt)
Sung by Margaret Singana and the Baragwanath Choir
See more »

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User Reviews

Quite rewarding!

When Nandi and her unborn child are saved by the ancient witch doctor, he proclaims: "A force has been generated that in time will rock the foundation of the African sub-continent."

Indeed the prophecy shaped the event and Shaka was the ruthless founder of southern Africa's Zulu Empire... In less than a decade, the paramount chieftain of the Zulu clan revolutionized the techniques of tribal warfare and fashioned an efficient and terrifying fighting force that devastated the entire region...

Set against the emergence of British power in Africa during the early 19th Century, the film provides some valuable insights into comparative cultures...

Shaka (Henry Cele) is a man of considerable height, thin, with athletic body and white teeth who can read and write... He is a great warrior, tactically, strategically and physically... He rearms his army with a long-bladed, short-shafted stabbing spear, which forced them to fight at close quarters... He goes for extermination, incorporating the remnants of the clans he smashed into the Zulu, making it increase with numbers and power..

The Mini-Series begins with a letter to the British king (George IV) regarding the Zulus' potential threat to the Cape Colony... In an attempt to intimidate Shaka into an alliance with the British empire, the Secretary of War sends a delegation to inner African to meet with the fearful warrior...

We see:

  • The meeting of Nandi, an orphaned princess of the neighboring Langeni

clan and Senzangakona, the chief of the then small Zulu tribe... They are instantly attracted to each other... Nandi becomes pregnant, at the same time as Kona's wife, but the marriage did not last... Their marriage violated Zulu custom, and the stigma of this extended to the child...

  • The couple separated when Shaka was six, and Nandi takes her son back

to the Langeni, where he passed a fatherless boyhood among a people who despised his mother and makes him the butt of endless cruel pranks... He grows up to be bitter and angry, hating his tormentors... The Langeni drove Nandi out, and she finally found shelter with the Dletsheni, a sub-clan of the powerful Mtetwa...

  • Shaka rules with an iron hand from the beginning, distributing

instant death for the slightest opposition...

  • While en route to Shaka's capital, the crew's doctor saves a girl who

is in a coma and nearly buried alive by her tribe... Impressed by both the deed and their horses, Shaka agrees to meet with the crew... And so begins the clash of two cultures, two different worlds...

  • Shaka, seriously wounded for saving an unknown warrior (King

Dingiswayo), is nursed to health by a beautiful Mtwetwa girl...

  • Shaka, believing in total annihilation, joins the Mtwetwa army and

creates a dangerous weapon for the African warfare...

  • Shaka grants Port Natal, with its ivory rights, to the British crew

after he is saved by the crew's doctor from an assassination attempt...

  • Shaka's mighty army saving the British delegation in a battle against

thousands of Ndwandwe warriors... To test the alliance and allegiance of the British delegation, Shaka orders them into battle alone against the Ndwandwe warriors...

  • With his mother's death Shaka becomes openly psychotic... Shaka rules

by the sheer force of his personality, building, by scores of daily executions, a fear so profound that he could afford to ignore it...

Set against the spectacular panorama of the Zulu tribal homelands, and with graphic violence and frequent nudity, "Shaka Zulu" is a tremendous epic Mini-Series, chronicling the rise and fall of one of the most famous South Africans who has already passed into legend...

36 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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